Ireland Women finished off their Six Nations campaign in fine style with a 45 – 12 win against Scotland at Donnybrook on Sunday afternoon. The win assured Ireland of a third place finish.
Ireland (25) 45
TRY: Alison Millar (3), Liz Burke, Ciara Griffin, Niamh Briggs (2), Sophie Spence.
CON: Niamh Briggs.
PEN: Niamh Briggs.
Scotland (7) 12
TRY: Jenny Maxwell, Rhona Lloyd.
CON: Lana Skeldon.
Alison Millar stole the show with a hat trick of tries closely followed by Niamh Briggs, who bagged a brace. Liz Burke, Ciara Griffin and Sophie Spence all chipped in with a try apiece, Briggs converting one as well as a first half penalty.
Scotland replied with tries from Jenny Maxwell, converted by Lana Skeldon, in the first half and feisty winger Rhona Lloyd crossed with the final play of the game.
Ireland started brightly with Millar running in her first try after six minutes, the experienced international giving her opposite number a torrid time throughout. Briggs added the conversion and Ireland relaxed into their game showing quite a bit more intent with ball in hand.
Within minutes a break by Sene Naoupu was moved on by Briggs to Burke who outpaced the cover defence to score in the corner, a try that was greeted with much enthusiasm by her teammates. The celebrations continues when Briggs and Burke combined to make a lot of yards down the right. The move was taken on by Paula Fitzpatrick before switching to the right again where Griffin rounded the remaining defence for an equally popular try.
Scotland eventually got their hands on the ball and enjoyed a good period of pressure before Briggs knocked over a penalty on the half hour mark. Minutes later the talented fullback was again on the scoreboard, this time a try in the left corner after good work by Millar and Claire McLaughlin to give Ireland a 25 – 0 lead.
Though out-gunned in most departments the Scots stuck to their task and were duly rewarded when their scrappy scrum half Maxwell crossed on the 35th minute for a try, converted by hooker Skeldon, which saw the teams go into the break with Ireland leading 25 – 7.
Any thoughts of a Scottish comeback were quickly dispelled when Millar crossed for her second shortly after the break. Briggs joined her on two tries apiece about ten minutes later and with Scottish discipline starting to crumble, with two players in the bin, Millar crossed for her hat trick to push the score to Ireland 40 Scotland 5.
The now traditional spate of substitutions, from the 55th minute on, broke up the second half and, to be fair, Scotland remained dogged and determined throughout, working hard to stem the tide.
However, there are few who can stop a “dogged and determined” Sophie Spence from close range and the second half substitute, for Paula Fitzpatrick, forced her way to the line for Ireland’s eighth try as the game approached it’s final stages.
Scotland still refused to lie down and the visitors ended the game with a try from Lloyd with the last play of the game.
Final Score. Ireland Women 45 Scotland Women 12.
Ireland: Niamh Briggs, Liz Burke, Claire McLaughlin, Sene Naoupu, Alison Miller, Nora Stapleton, Larissa Muldoon, Ruth O’Reilly, Zoe Grattage, Ailis Egan, Elaine Anthony, Ciara Cooney, Ciara Griffin, Claire Molloy, Paula Fitzpatrick. Replacements: Cliodhna Moloney, Fiona Hayes, Fiona Reidy, Orla Fitzsimons, Sophie Spence, Mary Healy, Aine Donnelly, Kim Flood.
Generally the series went better than I expected as I anticipated more difficulties in integrating fourteen new players. There is no doubt that the management team can count this as a successful campaign and I must admit that, much as I loved Ashbourne, the 13:00 kick offs at Donnybrook do help with the photography! 🙂
The only minor niggle I have is that I would have liked to have seen the backs play more often without the huge safety net of Niamh Briggs and Alison Millar, especially over the last two games, with the championship already lost.
The forwards all seemed to fit in seamlessly and it’s from this group that I’ve picked my player of the tournament in none other than Railway Union’s Cliodhna Moloney who managed to fill the huge gap at hooker left by long term injuries to Stacey-Lea Kennedy and Gill Bourke. Moloney’s arrows and scrummaging were generally good and she showed a great aptitude for work around the pitch across the entire series to mark a particularly impressive début tournament.